It's looking like the Senate health care reform bill won't have either a public option or Medicare buy-in for people under 65.
That's disturbing. It sure isn't what I and other progressives expected when Obama was elected president and the Democrats won solid majorities in both houses of Congress.
I was looking forward to change I could believe in. Not change that I have to try to talk myself into feeling somewhat good about through the therapy of this blog post.
This morning I clicked in succession on two of my favorite political web sites. Over on FiveThirtyEight Nate Silver opined that it would be batshit crazy for progressives to oppose the Senate bill because it helps low-income and uninsured people so much.
For any "progressive" who is concerned about the inequality of wealth, income and opportunity in America, this bill would be an absolutely monumental achievement.
Then I turned to The Daily Kos, where the progressive mood was a lot darker. Steve Singiser sarcastically congratulated Senate Dems.
Before we begin what I suspect will be a furious attempt to rebrand the reported "compromise" (read: capitulation) on health care as the most meaningful piece of progressive legislation since ever, I think Senate Democrats deserve recognition for doing something that most thought would have been impossible--crafting health care legislation that will, ultimately, please no one.
Well, he may be right about not pleasing political wonks who understand the details of this complex legislation, and have a clear view of what better outcomes could have been achieved (ranging from the liberal dream of a national single payer plan, to the conservative fantasy of doing nothing at all and leaving Obama with a big fat defeat).
But I lean more toward Silver's perspective.
Our health care system is so screwed up, and is hurting/killing so many people, even the watered down Senate bill is a heck of a lot better than the status quo. Just doing away with limits on pre-existing conditions and a lifetime cap on benefits will make private insurance plans a lot more palatable.
On a dog walk this afternoon I got to thinking about how nice it was to be able to walk to a nearby neighborhood lake from our house by going across the creek and through the woods.
When we moved in nineteen years ago, gigantic Himalayan blackberry vines covered a large portion of our five acres. We couldn't get through them for quite a while.
But every year we'd get rid of more of this invasive species. Eventually we were able to hire somebody with a tractor to clear some large areas at one whack. Now our property is completely blackberry free and we enjoy being able to walk through every corner of it.
Health care reform strikes me as being similar: currently filled with a lot of prickly annoyances, but capable of being worked over time into a much more pleasing package.
Cost controls are lacking in the legislation that will be passed by Congress. That's unfortunate, since health spending is bankrupting this country -- and many individuals.
But after the reform package is passed, there won't be any way to undo it.
Americans are going to like what they've been given, and want more improvements. In a few years we'll learn that while most citizens are now insured, people are still paying way too much to inefficient, poorly managed, greedy health insurance plans.
Then hopefully politicans will see the light and support genuine health care reform, not just health insurance reform. I can dream, at least. Which is therapeutic.